It is blue, bursting with goodness and might just be the future of Polish farming. The once humble blueberry is quickly becoming a cash crop as farmers gear up to meet soaring demand for the so-called ‘superfood’.
Four years ago a clutch of almost breathlessly enthusiastic health studies revealed that the fruit was packed with so much goodness and vitamins that blueberries achieved almost mythic status among foodies and nutritionists. Once seen as little more than a perfunctory pie filling, the berry has become Europe’s most fashionable fruit.
Jerzy Wilczewski set up his own specialist horticultural farm after his graduation from Warsaw Agricultural University in 1979.
Among 40 kinds of fruit and vegetables, blueberries came first in terms of the content of antioxidants, i.e. substances that neutralise free radicals. The second spot was taken by grape juice, whose capacity was 2/3 that of antioxidant potential found for blueberries. They were followed by strawberries, kale, and spinach. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the equal amount of blueberries contains five times the antioxidants of pea, carrots, apples, marrow, or broccoli.
The group of substances that make blueberries a valuable addition to our diet are phytyoestrogens (i.e. plant hormones). Among the plants of the heather family, cranberries are the richest in phytochemical content (five times more than blueberries and bilberries), followed by cowberries (three times).